When Lomography announced its Fantôme and Babylon Kino films, I hesitated at first, then went ahead and ordered 5 rolls of each. I wasn’t too excited about some slow black & white film, but I appreciate what Lomography are doing, and want to support new (and newly available thanks to repackaging) film stocks.
They took awhile to come, and waited a bit before trying one, but then, one Saturday in June 2020, as my darling wife and I prepared for a scenic drive I grabbed a roll, loaded it into the FM3a, attached the Nikon 105mm f/2.5, and threw caution to the wind…
This moonscape was the best picture I made on that drive, the near-deserted downtown area of St. Jo, Texas, where we paused for a few minutes.
Whoa, Contrast…. Sheesh. It’s either white or black. What the?
Well, I think development was part of my problem. I waited until September to develop this roll, and I developed it semi-stand in Rodinal (1:100, 60 minutes, 4 inversions at start and at 30 minutes). In my limited hunting, there were no examples of stand developed Fantôme, and, well, perhaps with good reason.
Everything I got had essentially two tones: black and white. Sure, it’s a black & white film, but most black & white films include a range of greys in between.
Not the Fantôme, though, not stand developed in Rodinal, anyway.
I had some limited success with plant life in the back yard and elsewhere.
But, sheesh. The contrast!
I was wholly disgusted by these and posted a few to Twitter in response to a #filmtober question from Jason Avery.
Other than that, I was happy to keep this set of mostly failures to myself.
Fantôme: 1 / James: 0
Then, in January 2020, I decided to get over it and shot a couple more rolls.
Rather than make this a long honking post full of twists and turns, I’m going to leave you in suspense for a bit. So stay tuned for the next episode in ma bataille avec le Fantôme.